Since its dedication, the twin towers of the Cathedral have been a Scranton landmark. Gain a new perspective of this historic building through its art and architecture. On Friday, August 6 at 7:00 p.m., Monsignor Rupert, Cathedral Pastor, will offer a tour highlighting the numerous frescoes, stained glass windows, mosaics, and other works of art which bring to life our local history.

The Valenches Music Company will be performing live music on the porch of the Cathedral starting at 6 p.m.

The tour is presented in conjunction with First Friday Scranton.


Father Ed Michelini, seminarian Marc Philips during French Azilum Mass on Sunday, July 25, 2021

BRADFORD COUNTY – Returning to the first roots of the Catholic faith in Bradford County, where they were originally planted, Father Ed Michelini from Ss. Peter & Paul Parish in Towanda began a new tradition four years ago. Once a year, on a Sunday in July, he offers Mass at the French Azilum Historic Site, accompanied by parishioners and visitors. The Board of Directors at the French Azilum Site welcomes this event each year on their calendar as another living link to its past history.

Many aristocrats fled the violence of the French Revolution by coming to America in the late 18th century. The group of refugees who came to this area had an additional goal — to establish a place of refuge for their Queen, Marie Antoinette, and her two children, hence the name “Azilum,” which means asylum or safety.

Investors in Philadelphia who were sympathetic to the French loyalists’ plight, initially purchased 1600 acres along the Susquehanna River. They set aside 300 acres on a fertile “horseshoe” bend in the river for a planned community, including agricultural area, and began building houses for the refugees.

The occupation began in 1793, including one or more priests, and more homes added as numbers increased. As history explains, Marie Antoinette did not escape death, and the “Grand Maison” (The Big House) which they had built for the queen was later utilized for other purposes. This community eventually dwindled; by the turn of the century, several had migrated to more established places, such as New Orleans with its large French population; many others returned home to France when the new government granted them amnesty.

A few families remained, and some of their descendants are still among the local county population. Place names, like Homet’s Ferry and LaPorte are remnants of that period.

On Sunday, July 25, 2021, Father Michelini, along with parish summer seminarian, Marc Philips, set up the altar under the pavilion for the 1:00 p.m. Mass. A number of parishioners, site guides and visitors assembled and participated in the Mass. In his homily, Father Michelini recalled not only our grandparents and the elderly, for the celebration of the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, but also the region’s ancestors in faith, and the intrepid French settlers who made Bradford County home.

Marc Philips led the entrance and recessional hymns, with all happily joining in singing in the open air. He also sang a solo Communion hymn. A gentle breeze wafted like the Holy Spirit through the flock of the faithful who gathered once more on the grounds for the Holy Mass.



WASHINGTON (CNS) – The refusal by the U.S. House to include the Hyde Amendment and other pro-life riders in appropriations bills before lawmakers passed the measures is an “injustice” that overshadows the provisions that help “vulnerable people,” said the chairmen of two U.S. bishops’ committees.

Late July 29, the House voted 219 to 208 in favor of H.R. 4502, a package of appropriations bills that currently exclude the Hyde, Weldon and Helms amendments and other longstanding, bipartisan-supported pro-life language.

Eliminating these provisions would force taxpayers to pay for elective abortions and would have the effect of forcing health care providers and professionals “to perform and refer for abortion against their deeply-held beliefs, as well as forcing employers and insurers to cover and pay for abortion,” said the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in a news release issued after the vote.

The release included a joint statement on the House actions by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

“The House has voted in a way that is completely out of step with the will of the American people who overwhelmingly oppose taxpayer-funded abortion,” the prelates said.

“The Hyde Amendment has saved at least 2.4 million lives since its enactment. Without it, millions of poor women in desperate circumstances will make the irrevocable decision to take the government up on its offer to end the life of their child,” they said.

The now-approved package of spending bills “includes provisions that help vulnerable people, including pregnant moms,” they acknowledged, but “as we have said before, ‘being “right” in such matters can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life.'”

This “failure to protect and defend life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the ‘rightness’ of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community,” they said, again quoting a previous bishops’ statement.

H.R. 4502 covers spending for Agriculture; Energy and Water Development; Financial Services and General Government; Interior, Environment and related agencies, Labor, Health and Human Services and Education; Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and related agencies; and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.

The Hyde Amendment, first enacted with strong bipartisan support 45 years ago, outlaws federal tax dollars from directly funding abortion except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the woman would be endangered.

Congress must reauthorize the Hyde Amendment annually as an attachment to the appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services. Hyde language also has been part of a dozen spending bills for decades. Until this year, Hyde has been reauthorized every year since 1976.

“The injustice in H.R. 4502 extends to removing conscience protections and exemptions for health care providers who believe abortion is wrong, or whose faith drives them to serve and heal lives, instead of taking them,” Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Naumann said, referring to the Weldon Amendment, first passed in 2005.

“Funding the destruction of innocent unborn human lives, and forcing people to kill in violation of their consciences, are grave abuses of human rights,” they said.

The cardinal and archbishop called on the Senate “to redress this evil in H.R. 4502, and for Congress to ultimately pass appropriations bills that fully support and protect human dignity, and the most vulnerable among us.”

On July 28, the House voted 217-212 to pass the appropriations bill for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, H.R. 4373, without the Helms Amendment. Called “the Hyde Amendment for the rest of the world,” it has prohibited using U.S. taxpayer funds to directly pay for abortions in other countries since 1973.

In a July 30 joint statement, Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop Naumann and Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, criticized the House for eliminating Helms.

“(This) could force recipient countries that have strong legal and cultural opposition to abortion to embrace it in order to receive desperately?needed help for their people,” they said.

“Pope Francis has referred to this type of situation as ideological colonization,” they added, calling on the Senate “to?stand?against the coercive pro-abortion policies of H.R. 4373.”

“While this legislation contains many positive provisions that provide assistance to the poor and vulnerable worldwide, including protection of refugees, increases to humanitarian assistance, and protection of the environment, nothing can justify subsidizing the taking of innocent human life,” the prelates said.

In a July 29 email, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., a co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, told Catholic News Service that he, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., and other House members “pushed hard in the Rules Committee and in the House debates to defend the unborn and their mothers from the violence of abortion.”

“A total of 14 pro-life amendments were ruled out of order by the Democratic majority,” Smith said in July 27 remarks on the House floor. “All is not lost, however. I remain hopeful — confident — that the Senate will reinstate all current pro-life protections, like the Hyde Amendment.”

Before the full House took up the spending bills for fiscal year 2022, the House Appropriations Committee had spent the previous weeks marking up the bills on largely party-line votes to advance them to the House floor.

In marking them up, committee members left out the Hyde, Weldon and Helms amendments.

Their actions after President Joe Biden released his proposed budget May 28 without the Hyde Amendment, a move decried by the U.S. Catholic bishops, the Catholic Health Association, several national pro-life organizations, and Smith and many other pro-life House members.

Other pro-life reaction to the House’s July 29 vote included a statement from Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, who criticized “pro-abortion Democrats” for eliminating provisions that “protect the American public from funding or providing abortions against their will.”

“Consistent polling shows that a majority of Americans want these protections” she said in a July 29 statement. “It is time codify these popular and common-sense riders into law by passing the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act. No one should be forced to compromise their values, but especially not on this life-or-death issue.”

Mancini was referring to the proposed No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2021, or H.R. 18, which would make Hyde and similar provisions permanent. Smith is the author of the bill, which has 166 co-sponsors.

Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly said the House vote “to make taxpayers pay for abortions is both an assault on the dignity of life and contrary to the wishes of most Americans.” He cited the results of Knights of Columbus/Marist polling this year showing “that 58% of Americans oppose the use of taxpayer-funding for abortions … affirming over a decade of previous polling data.”

“We urge the Senate to include the Hyde Amendment and other similar provisions as they undertake the appropriations process and for the full Congress to ultimately pass spending bills that affirm this bipartisan desire of the American public,” Kelly said.

“We call on all legislators, especially our fellow Catholics, to have the courage to make a stand for conscience and to not force every tax-paying American to pay for the destruction of innocent life in the womb,” he said.

Jennifer Popik, legislative director of National Right to Life, said the Hyde Amendment “has proven to be the greatest domestic abortion-reduction measure ever enacted by Congress. … (It) is widely recognized as having saved over two million American lives since it was first adopted in 1976.”


Pope Francis greets a young person during his general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Aug. 4, 2021. It was his first audience since undergoing colon surgery July 4. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The true Gospel has been revealed by Jesus Christ, not by individuals or founders of movements, Pope Francis said during his weekly general audience.

“With the truth of the Gospel, one cannot negotiate. Either you receive the Gospel as it is, as it was announced,” or one embraces something else, he said Aug. 4 to those gathered in the Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican.

“One cannot compromise. Faith in Jesus is not a bargaining chip; it is salvation, it is encounter, it is redemption. It cannot be sold off cheaply,” said the pope, as he led his first general audience since his colon surgery July 4 and after the usual suspension of general audiences for the month of July.

Continuing with a new catechesis series reflecting on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, Pope Francis focused on the apostle’s insistence that the faithful be loyal to the Gospel Jesus preached and not be swayed by new missionaries who “wish to pervert the Gospel of Christ.”

St. Paul understands the need to keep the young community safe from that which threatens its foundations, that is, a new “gospel,” which is “perhaps more sophisticated, more intellectual,” but which distorted “the true Gospel because it prevents (people) from attaining the freedom acquired by arriving at faith,” the pope said, emphasizing the key here was “freedom.”

The true proclamation is “that of the death and resurrection of Jesus as the source of salvation,” he said. “Whoever accepts it is reconciled to God, is welcomed as a true son or daughter and receives the inheritance of eternal life.”

Instead, some of the Galatians seemed to be veering off onto another path: listening to new missionaries who think “that by circumcision they will be even more devoted to the will of God and thus be even more pleasing to Paul,” the pope said. They seem to be “inspired by fidelity to the tradition received from the fathers and believe that genuine faith consists in observing the law.”

St. Paul, therefore, seems unorthodox with regard to tradition, but he knows “that his mission is of a divine nature — it was revealed by Christ himself, to him” as something that is radically and always new, the pope said.

In this complicated situation, he said, “it is necessary to disentangle oneself in order to grasp the supreme truth that is most consistent with the person and preaching of Jesus and his revelation of the father’s love.”

“This is important: knowing how to discern,” he said. “Many times we have seen in history, and we also see it today, some movements that preach the Gospel in their own way, sometimes with their own real charisms; but then they exaggerate and reduce the entire Gospel to the ‘movement.'”

When that happens, it becomes a gospel of the founder and not of Christ, he said.

“It may help at the beginning, but in the end, it does not bear fruit with deep roots. For this reason, Paul’s clear and decisive word was salutary for the Galatians and is salutary for us too,” he said.

The pope said the true Gospel is “Christ’s gift to us; he himself revealed it to us. It is what gives us life.”


August 4, 2021

WASHINGTON- Catholics across the United States offer hope and help to their sisters and brothers in Africa through contributions to the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa. Each year, many dioceses in the United States support the Solidarity Fund during July and August with special collections at Sunday Mass and through their online and e-giving platforms. Other dioceses take a collection at different times throughout the year or make a direct contribution in lieu of a collection.

“Gifts to the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa support the Church’s mission to bring hope, foster understanding and healing among diverse peoples and help to spread the Good News of God’s love and mercy through Jesus Christ,” said Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R. of Newark, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on the Church in Africa. “The generosity of U.S. Catholics makes a tangible, lasting impact in the lives of our Catholic brothers and sisters.”

From an economic and political standpoint, Africa is the poorest and most marginalized area of the world. Endemic poverty, ecological damage, poor governance, persistent conflict, and major population displacements plague much of the continent.

“Yet, Africa is also a continent of enormous spiritual vitality, where the People of God – ordained and laity alike – share the Gospel with a joy that should inspire all of us to do likewise,” said Cardinal Tobin. “Donations from U.S. Catholics to the Solidarity Fund provide the basic resources that the Church in Africa needs in its pastoral mission to deepen the faith of its people, evangelize its neighbors, strengthen its leadership and promote peace and justice. Every dollar that is received in the basket or sent online through e-giving platforms goes a long way to make a real difference in the faith lives of individuals, families, and communities across Africa.”

In 2020, giving to the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa declined dramatically due to the long stretch without in-person masses because of the COVID pandemic – at the very time that the need in Africa escalated due to the same pandemic. Nevertheless, in 2020 the Fund was able to support these other critical ministries:

  • In war-torn Cameroon, 65 catechists received training in trauma counseling and human rights education, enabling them to offer pastoral support to masses of displaced persons who fled fighting that destroyed their homes and communities.
  • In Burundi, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference is expanding its programs to protect minors and vulnerable adults from sexual violence and abuse, establishing an outreach program in every diocese to raise awareness and end sexual abuse in the Church and in society.
  • In the Republic of Congo, a four-day national teachers’ workshop will revitalize the teaching of religion and impact thousands of students nationwide.
  • In Zambia, a country with so few priests that villagers often go months without access to the sacraments, lay leaders at two national Bible conferences received intensive instruction in understanding and properly interpreting the Word of God.

Learn more about the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa and how donations make a difference at